Part 2 of in progress story for years. I may post part 3 soon too. Needs a lot of work.
|VI. Wednesday: 1:35 P.M.|
Front legs of a chair dropping to the floor under an immense weight cause an involuntary twitch in the prone form on the floor. Startled by the noise, his head pounds like an un-oiled engine and breath scratches his throat like tumbleweeds while fresh waves of pain course up his arm sending his teeth together with an audible click. The rusting machine in his head kicks into overdrive. Each spike of pain wakes the next.
A thick shadow drapes over him preceded by footsteps to his right. Slowly turning his head on tight neck muscles he opens his one good eye and sees the sun billowing from behind a man’s head. Long hair hangs to his shoulders in greasy mats.
Unable to bear the pain, he closes his eye, hoping to settle the roiling waves in his stomach. The smell of fresh sweat upon dried sweat followed the looming man and wafted over Bill lying on the floor. The volley of smells awake his senses and trigger a gag reflex threatening to bring up whatever’s left in his stomach. Arching his back pleading with himself not to retch, his head explodes with a burst of thundering hooves. Gagging again, his temples pulse with the force of a jackhammer on a steel hull.
A deep voice says, “Can’t swallow can you? Maybe this’ll help.” A stream of burning water cascades violently across his face initiating a scream. As he opens his mouth to release his pain, another torrent of hot water pours over his head. It slides down his throat, filling his lungs with water. Hands grab him roughly by the shoulders flipping him on his belly. A heavy weight lands squarely on his back forcing everything from his lungs and stomach up his throat. Heaving ferociously again and again he lays in a puddle of his own detritus, twitching feebly. His mouth and throat burn fiercely with live embers. He smells his own vomit laced with the tinge of leftover tequila.
“I should leave you here like this but you stink.”
The foul smelling, long-haired freak delivers a kick directly into the prone man’s kidneys, laughing. Bill feels his bladder loosen and attempts to curl into a fetal position. Moving too slowly, he is unable to avoid two more swift kicks to his bruised kidneys. His bladder bursts and the slick, warm feel of his own urine and more than likely his own blood awash his crotch.
“Awww, looks like the poor baby wet himself.” The dark-haired demon mocked, “Now we’ll have to clean you up.”
James LeBeck stared at the half-conscious form of Bill Millney. Picking up the empty buckets he strolled through the door. Dropping the buckets on a chair he picked up a hose snaking out a window and pulled the rest of it in the room. When he had enough slack James reentered the room. Depressing the spray nozzle he loosed a sharp stream of water on Bill and the puddle surrounding him. Awash in the sudden chill of shooting water Bill jerked and sputtered. He pulled his left arm over his face to avoid the stream and yet welcoming the refreshing bath. James buffeted Bill with the water until the mess was sufficiently diluted. James released and dropped the nozzle. Pulling the chair over he sat, facing the back of the wooden chair to Bill.
Nudging him with his foot, “Wake up dipshit.”
Bill glared at James, water dripping down his swollen red cheeks. Through shivering lips, “What are you doing here?”
“I’m saving Shannon.” He couldn’t help but smile.
Gritting his teeth, Bill shook his head to flip his hair from his eyes instantly regretting that action. “Saving her? From what?”
“Saving her from you and your pathetic attempts as a husband.”
“How do you expect to do that? She told you to get out, remember?”
“Yeah, I know. But I remember lots of other things too. Like your condescending attitude. Your pompous and arrogant view of everyone around you. I remember how you never appreciated her, never treated her the right way. She loved you and you were a stupid kid playing at being a man. You never were the man she wanted or needed. Now the time has come to put things back the way they should be. The time is right. We belong together.”
“Bullshit. She’s over you. She hates you and when she finds out about this you won’t stand a chance.”
Laughing and shaking his head James leered at Bill, “See. It’s perfect. It worked like a charm. She couldn’t leave while Rina was a baby, but now... Now is the time. With you out of the way she won’t have to be worried about custody or any other shit.”
“She’s over you. You’ve been gone for three years now. It took her half that time just to get over the anger of you for not saying goodbye to Rina. Do you know Rina kept asking for you? That broke Shan’s heart more than anything you could have done to her. You are no longer what she wants or needs. You never were actually. You were just a figurehead, a symbol, somebody who was there when I wasn’t. Besides, how are you going to provide for them?”
“That’s what it always came down to with you. Money! Always money! Shan didn’t need money. Didn’t even want it. You did. But, don’t you see the beauty of it? When you’re gone, Shan gets the insurance. With that we’ll have enough to take care of us for a long time. We’ll be quite happy. They’ll both come running to my arms. Oh she’ll have to play the grieving wife for a while but I’ll be there for her. I’ll be the old friend who shows up and lends a shoulder. I’ll be her rock. I will be her MAN!”
Bill wondered when his madness had begun. He knew James had always had an overconfidence concerning himself, but when had that become maniacal? Bill looked up at James, “What do you know about being a man? Grabbing someone from behind and mutilating them. Yeah, that’s really manly of you!”, Bill sneered. “How long did you hold a job? What is it? Six months if it’s a day isn’t it? Get over it! She’s done with you! Get that through your head. And you consider yourself a man.”
Not taking the bait, James continued in his leering voice, “Shannon always did know you. She was right again. She told me exactly how things would play out and she was right. She even told me what you’d say when I had you here. Damn, she’s a smart woman, more than you could ever hope to keep. She told me if I left, you two would patch things up, move on, but you wouldn’t change. Oh, you’d try, maybe even do some of it right... but over all you’d still be the same lowlife, dumbshit you always were. You can’t give her what she needs or wants.”
“You’re lying. She’s not like that.”
“We planned this long ago. When she realized that you knew what was going on, we came up with this plan. She knew you’d never confront me about it. We both knew what a pussy you are. You run and hide or stomp around and yell taking your anger out on her or Rina when no one else is around. Anyone you can’t stare down you run away from. Ah! And you call yourself a man. You’re a laugh.”
“You lying deranged fuck! I let you into my home and this is how you repay me! You take my wife and . . .”
“Give it rest Bill. That shit don’t fly with me. Quit playing the martyr. She came to me and got what you didn’t know how to give her. Well, this has been fun but I’ve got to go. I’ve got some more business to take care of. There’s a friend of yours that I can’t have living in my new home. This is going to be beautiful. Too bad you’re gonna die here.”
James stood, picked the chair up over his head, “Good bye Bill.”
Bill’s good eye opened wide and then went to normal, “You know James, I don’t think you can give her exactly what I couldn’t.” Jeeringly, Bill lifted his right hand through the pain and waggled his little finger back and forth. “She didn’t call you pinky for nothing.” Laughing at him, he saw James’ face redden under the insult. And it had the desired effect. The chair came down in a rush, stopping his laughter mid chuckle.
VII. Wednesday: 8:30 P.M.
Thick, creeping mist drifted through a copse of trees to her right. Rays of the setting sun spliced through the leafy canopy turning the mist iridescent silver. As the fog drifted past, a tombstone revealed itself and the moist maw of a grave was uncovered. From the shadowy depths beneath the trees a figure emerged, tall and thick chested. As she veered from the gravesite, the veiled shadow held out a welcoming hand. The figure began to walk, almost drift from under the trees. She lifted her hand in response aiming toward the figure. The shrill ring of the cordless phone woke a dozing Shannon. She bolted upright and reached for the phone snatching it from its cradle in midst the second ring. Shaking off the wisps of the fast fading dream, “Hello? Bill!?”
“Sorry baby. It’s me. Still no word?”
Sighing in despair, “No Steve. He still hasn’t shown up.”
“Want me to come over? I made some spaghetti. I could bring you some.”
“No thanks, I’m not very hungry right now.” She gazed out the window behind her at the darkening sky, bright and clear, not a cloud to be seen.
“Okay. How ‘bout Rina? Did she eat yet?”
“Yeah, I had her fix a sandwich. She’s doing fine, watching cartoons right now.”
“Is Jace in?”
“No, he went to work.”
“You sure you should be alone?”
“I’m not alone. Rina’s here.”
Steve’s sigh came through the line, “Have you called the Police yet? He has been missing for over twenty-four hours now.”
“No. I was hoping he’d show up on his own.”
“Why don’t I come over and we’ll call them together? I’d like to find him too. He’s my friend too ya know.”
“I know that Steve. It’s just I’d rather wait until Rina’s asleep. I don’t want her to hear anything. She’s already had enough people leave her life. She doesn’t need another one, especially Bill.”
“Listen. Put Rina to bed and I’ll be there in about forty-five minutes.”
“No, I’d rather not have any company for now. If he doesn’t show up, I’ll call them tomorrow.”
“I think you should call now. He’s not the type to do something like this.”
“I can’t right now. Besides, there’s a first time for everything. It was a really bad fight. Hasn’t been one like that since . . . Well, since before.”
Steve hesitantly replied, “Since James?”
“Yeah that.” Quickening her voice, “Listen, tomorrow’s my day off so come by for lunch. Deal?”
“All right deal. But if you haven’t called the Police by then, than I’m going to. Deal?”
“Fine. I’ll see you then.”
“Okay, see you about 10:30. Bye baby.”
As Shannon replaced the handset she leaned over and placed her head in her hands and curled her feet underneath her.
“Mommy? Who was that on the phone?”
A fleeting image of the tall shadowed figure beckoning with his hand flitted across her eyesight. She had been going to him away from the grave. Why? Whose grave was that? She had a sneaking suspicion it belonged to her husband. He can’t be dead! He can’t be!
Shannon lifted her head and saw Rina, standing in the doorway of the living room, her hands shoved in her pockets. Her dark brown hair sticking up in corkscrews in the back. Her deep brown eyes so like her fathers peering out from thick lashes.
“I’m sorry sweetheart. What did you say?”
Rolling her eyes, again just like her father, and crossing her arms. “I said who was on the phone?”
“That was Steve honey.”
Her eyes lit up. “Is he coming over?” clapping her delicate hands together.
“No, honey. Not tonight. It’s time for little girls to get to sleep.”
“Aww Mommy. Can’t I stay up just a little longer? Just till my show is over? Pleassssssse?”
“No Rina. Not tonight. It’s time for bed. Now go wash up.”
“Mommy. I promise I’ll go to bed as soon as it’s over.”
“Rina. I’m not in the mood, please just do as I said and go brush your teeth and change. It’s time for bed. I’ll be in to tuck you in in a minute.”
“Fine.” Hanging her head and arms, she turned toward the bathroom. Turning her head back around, “Mommy? Can’t Daddy tuck me in tonight?”
Shivering inwards Shannon replied, “No honey. Not tonight. Daddy’s at work late. You should see him tomorrow.”
“Okay Mommy. I hope so because you and Daddy had a really big fight yesterday. You really yelled at him.”
“Yes, we did have a disagreement. But I’m sure he’ll be back later. He’s just working late.”
“He wasn’t here this morning either Mommy.”
“I know sweetheart.” An edge creeping into her voice no matter how she tried to prevent it. She hoped her lies didn’t sound as hollow to Rina as they sounded to her. “He had to get to work early, so he left before you woke up.”
“I’ll be in shortly. You be sure you’re in bed when I do.”
Sighing exasperatedly, “I will Mommy.”
“Come here please?” Shannon asked holding open her arms. Rina ran smiling into her mother’s arms.
“I love you Rina. Very much. And so does Daddy. You are the world to us. You remember that, no matter what happens. Okay?”
“I know Mommy.”
“Promise you’ll remember that.” Shannon said, hugging her daughter fiercely.
“I promise Mommy. I promise.”
“Thank you sweetheart. Now go get ready for bed.”
“Okay Mommy. Goodnight.”
VIII. Thursday: 3:30 A.M.
A police siren in the distance broke the stillness of the summer night. Shannon turned on her side and watched the digital clock switch to 3:33. The LED readout slowly ticked the seconds by as the siren faded in the distance and night resumed its slow ascent toward dawn.
Shannon sat up in the dark and propped the pillows behind her. Reaching for the phone her hand hesitated as a car pulled up. An engine cut and she heard a car door open. As the car door shut, she jumped from the bed. When a key turned in the front door, she opened her bedroom door. She walked down the hall to the living room as Jace turned the corner.
Jace startled for a second, started to open his mouth and seeing the drawn look on her face hung his head, “No word I guess huh?”
“No. Nothing yet.”
“Don’t know exactly. If I can borrow your car I’d like to run some places tomorrow.”
“Yeah sure, here’re the keys. Would you like some company?”
“No thanks. I’d rather go it by myself.”
“Okay, but can you be back by four? I have to go in an hour early tomorrow.”
“Yeah, I can do that.”
“Okay. I’m gonna crash. See ya tomorrow.”
“Yeah, good night.”
Jace turned around at his bedroom door, “Hey Shan?”
She stood there holding the keys, turning her head, “Yeah?”
“If you need anything, go ahead and wake me up okay.”
“Thanks Jace, I will.”
“Goodnight Shan.” He walked into his room and shut the door.
Shannon took the keys over and dropped them on the desk by the front door. Opening the blinds, she stared out the window at the empty street. About to turn away, headlights coming down the street caught her attention. A dark Chevy sedan cruised by, brake lights flickering briefly in front of the house. The driver glanced in her direction before driving off. Once more she was reminded of the tall, shadowed figure emerging from the copse of trees, beckoning to her. A shiver ran down her spine. She still felt the need to go to the shadow, even awake. Brake lights flickered again as it turned left at the next street. Closing the blinds, she slowly walked into the kitchen. Shivering again briefly, “It’s going to be a long night.”